Swimwear’s Tim Derricour walks us through his new LP.
Night Air is a concept album based on Richard Yates’ 1960s novel Revolutionary Road. The seven tracks build a story of the joy and heartbreak of a great love, all set against the backdrop of a changing world. It’s about that push and pull between suburban comfort, the idyllic and quiet life, and the desire for more; for wilder dreaming, on the road, out in the world, away from all you know.
Each song is a new chapter in this fictional world, taking its listener from nights out (‘Happyness’) and promises of first love (‘Funny Bones’) to suburban discontent (‘Funny Bones (Part II)’) and moonlit escape (‘Night Air/Time To Move On’). Yet, after all the heartache and self-destruction, the album closes with an acknowledgement of the need for pain (‘It Must Be Love’) and the chance of starting again (‘Wild Heart’). An album that demands listening in full, and on repeat, to hear a story of a life, lived at its most heartbreaking and uplifting.
‘Happyness’ was written in one day, up the coast, in a beach shack. It was never actually intended to be part of the record and when I wrote it, it felt like a separate world. But then, when the story came together, I realised I was missing that moment before the couple first meet – it’s a soft summer night, they are both in beat up old cars, heading to the only party in town, and it feels as if the setting sun itself is shining through them. I also like the idea of the sample beneath – a relationship motivational speech, with all the drama of a future relationship, chatting away beneath the innocence of that night out.
‘Funny Bones’ is a love song. That is all. I wanted simplicity and I wanted directness. The first lyrics for the song, “His hand on her wrist, her eye on his shoulder, two figures in a corner of room” never actually made the song – it didn’t fit the rhythm. But the idea of the funny bone was that instant thing that bound the song together – pleasure and pain in one instant. The pleasure of love, the pain of not knowing if it is on, where it is going, whether this is ‘it’. And that feeling of everyone else fading away and you are the only two in the room.
Funny Bones (Part II)
‘Funny Bones (Part II)’ leaps forward in the story. I actually wrote a whole sequence of “Funny Bones” songs (Parts III, IV and so on). I almost called the record ‘Funny Bones’. Like the kid’s book. This one is about pleasure and pain too – but in different ways. They have moved to the suburbs, they’ve turned the woods to lawn and painted every wall and, it seems, they’re doing alright. But I saw this through her eyes – he goes off to work in the city every day, and she is trapped in suburbia, a limited world too small for her dreams. It is her song.
Night Air/Time to Move On
My absolute favourite on the record. I always have a song on my records that I am actually a fan of – like if I didn’t write it but heard it on the radio, I’d think – that’s a good song. If only it was that way for all my songs. Sigh. Again, this is her song. Its 2, maybe 3am, she’s bolted to a bar and danced into a sweat and now she is standing outside in the cool night air, wondering, ‘What next?’ When Luke (Bertoz – mixer of the record) sent me the first mix, it was midnight, I turned out the lights, listened through with the breeze coming in the window and almost cried. At that moment, I wished everybody would listen to this record like that – wait until midnight, mid-summer, some ice in a drink, turn the lights out and close your eyes – then listen to my record. The follow up track, ‘Time to Move On’ their shared story – they know it’s over and they know when it’s time to move on. The swelling crescendo of a late night, silent battle, coming to its conclusion.
When We’re Alone
Like any relationship that burns out, the ending of this record is long and drawn out. They are now alone, together. She waits on the back porch until she knows he is asleep, joining him only then. He mimes sleep and takes to the garden when he hears her breath, calm. Then he finds himself missing something he so desperately needed ridding of. I have never trusted myself to write something truly gentle, something that only grabs you on the fifth or tenth listen. But this is that song. I almost left it off the record and I am so glad I didn’t – trust in beauty.
It Must be Love
Funnily enough, I wrote this on the same day as I wrote ‘Happyness’. A big day. For all the forward motion of that first song, ‘It Must Be Love’ is still, tense and softly grand. It’s a big statement song, a big love song but told in a quiet sort of way. This entire record was written and recorded on my beautiful Juno 6 but when I finished the first pass of this song, it just didn’t sound right. So I took it to the piano and wrote my first ever piano ballad. Finally, a song I can sing over candlelight for those who come to dinner and a show.
So if you have read Revolutionary Road, and think that I have followed the storyline, you would be waiting for a pretty grim ending. I just couldn’t do it. I am an optimist. And so, the happy ending. They leave town. Separately. Split apart, the dull ache of pain, but in a good way – the feeling of knowing that the pain of loss only hurts because it was once good, and true and beautiful. One morning, on tour, I woke up in the back of the moving van, looking over the burnt sunrise across the cliffs of New Mexico. And this is where I see her – driving, free, ready for new, wild life. Because they’re strong, enough, to stay, wild of heart.
Listen to Night Air below.
Night Air is out today. Buy a copy and check out Swimwear’s discography via Bandcamp.
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